Skip to main content

16 resources available

Handout

This discussion guide is for use with the video “What Are the Challenges to Judicial Independence?” which features a lecture by Charles Geyh, professor at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, at the Fair and Impartial Judiciary Symposium on October 26, 2019, at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Summary: Professor Geyh traces the development of the notion of judicial independence from the founding of our republic to the present. His discussion references how the sparse language of Article III of the U.S. Constitution has been amended over time by various conventions to promote the independence of a fair and impartial judiciary. He also examines how threats to such independence have arisen over time.

Download the discussion guide.

Handout

This discussion guide is for use with the video “State vs. Federal Courts,” which features a conversation with the Hon. Renée Cohn Jubelirer of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, Robert Heim, Esq., and the Hon. Theodore McKee of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Lynn A. Marks, Esq., moderates the panel discussion, which took place at the Fair and Impartial Judiciary Symposium on October 26, 2019, at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Summary: Beginning with the Founders, the assumption has been that a fair and impartial judiciary requires judicial independence. Article III of the U.S. Constitution sought to ensure this independence through a system that provided for the appointment of judges who would serve during “good behavior” (i.e., life tenure). Initially, most of the states copied this system, but later many changed it, influenced by a different view of democracy developed during what is generally known as the Jacksonian era. The result: These states now provided for the popular election of judges based on fixed terms of service. In 1940, Missouri adopted a system that intended to take politics out of the process of choosing judges. Subsequently, this plan was adopted by many states. Learn more from a discussion about state and federal courts.

Download the discussion guide.

Handout

This discussion guide is for use with the video “The Nature of Judicial Independence,” which features remarks and conversation with Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Hon. Stephanos Bibas, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and David F. Levi, former dean of Duke University School of Law, on October 26, 2019, at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

After Justice Anthony Kennedy retired in 2018, President Donald Trump was given his second appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. This opening was widely seen as giving the president the chance to dramatically shift the balance of the U.S. Supreme Court to a more solid, conservative majority, even more so than the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Unlike Scalia, who was generally a reliable conservative vote, Kennedy had emerged as the “swing justice.” Indeed, Kennedy played a key role in some of the Supreme Court’s most recent controversial decisions, particularly those involving, among other matters, abortion, homosexuality, and prayer in public schools.

Download the discussion guide.

Handout

This discussion guide is for use with the video “Is the Supreme Court Different?” which features a conversation with Linda Greenhouse, the Knight Distinguished Journalist in Residence and Joseph M. Goldstein Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School, who is interviewed by Theodore W. Ruger, dean of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, at the Fair and Impartial Judiciary Symposium on October 26, 2019, at the Penn Law School.

Summary: For many years, Linda Greenhouse was a New York Times reporter covering the U.S. Supreme Court. Her widely read and respected newspaper columns provided the nation with a clear view of the role the Court played in American society. Unlike many other courts, the public sessions of the Supreme Court are not televised, and not that long ago even the audio tapes of the oral arguments before the Court were not readily available.

Download the discussion guide.

Handout

This discussion guide is for use with the video “How Do Judges Decide Cases?” which features the Hon. Anthony J. Scirica of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and Stephen Burbank, professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, at the Fair and Impartial Judiciary Symposium on October 26, 2019, at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Summary: Judge Anthony J. Scirica and Stephen Burbank regularly team up to teach a law school course on the judicial process. Their discussion at the symposium focuses on how judges arrive at decisions.

Download the discussion guide.

Video

The Fair and Impartial Judiciary Symposium convened lawyers, scholars, judges and thought leaders at the University of Pennsylvania Law School to address the meaning and impact of an independent judiciary. The topics included the meaning of “fair and impartial judiciary”; the difference between state and federal courts; the challenges to judicial independence; deciding difficult cases; and the Supreme Court. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy gave the closing talk on “The Nature of Judicial Independence.” The symposium was organized by the Rendell Center for Civics and Civic Education in partnership with the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

Handout

In this lesson, students learn about the role of an independent judiciary in the United States. Through a cooperative learning jigsaw activity, they focus on operational differences, essential functions, limited powers, and controversial issues.

Video

In these five videos, judges explain separation of powers and the roles of the three branches of government as well as landmark cases related to separation of powers.

Game

In this new version of Court Quest, jump on the Justice Express and help guide ordinary citizens who are looking for justice through local, state and federal court systems.